Archive for the 'What Can You Say?' Category

Q: Why are Southern Baptists opposed to pre-marital sex?
A: Because it leads to dancing.

If you are now or have ever been a member of an SBC church (like I was at one time), you’ve probably heard that joke.

Sadly, for some, it’s not a joke, but rather another in a long line of (1) focusing on the wrong thing, (2) elevating opinion/preference to the level of doctrine, and (3) drawing definitive conclusions that have little or no basis in reality.

Such is the case for Mary Kassian in her criticism of William P Young’s The Shack.  Now, I am by no means a fan of the book.  It contains some (at best) questionable theology, has a troubling back-story, and many of its more strident fans often can’t seem to decide which genre it is in.

If you aren’t familiar with the book, Kassian’s criticism largely revolves around the fact that God the Father appears as a black woman named Papa.  Criticisms regarding this issue are numerous and have ranged from concern that Young has crossed a line to emphatic assertion that Young is promoting “goddess worship”.

It is fairly clear that what Young was probably trying to accomplish was to shake up the reader’s image of God, addressing the unfortunate issue that we have often created Him in our image, particularly in Western culture.  Unfortunately, Young’s attempt falls flat in that he trades in one humanly recognizable (and ill-conceived) image for another.  (Put another way, while it is true that God is not Wilford Brimley, He’s not Aunt Jemima, either.)

Setting aside the myriad negative motives that Kassian ascribes to Young, it would appear that she doesn’t even think that an assertion of goddess worship promotion is strong enough. Alluding to a mid-80s sculpture of a female Christ hanging on a cross, Kassian claims:

If you [don't think that The Shack contains terribly wrong concepts about God], then you’re well on your way to accepting the image of the Christa on the cross. In a few years, you’ll be hanging her up in your church.

No cautions that the wrong concepts could lead to other problems.  Rather, absolute and definitive statements of what will, without question, happen.  Do not pass GO.  Do not collect $200.  (Somebody call God and tell him that Kassian said He isn’t sovereign anymore.)

The only comment that I’ll make about her very next sentence (”I don’t think I’m overstating the case”) is to allude to gunplay, aquatic creatures, and large cylindrical containers made of wood.

Kassian’s criticism is not only over-the-top, but in some cases, just as theologically bad as — if not worse than — the book she is criticizing.  As part of her overall context of examining the imaging of God, she states (emphasis hers):

In the Old Testament, God instructed his people to reject female goddess images and images of God as a bi-sexual or a dual-sexual Baal/Ashtoreth-type collaboration. God hated this imagery so much that he had his people destroy it and all those who promoted it.

Combining these statements with others peppered throughout the article, Kassian comes dangerously close to (if not outright) implying that God’s main problem with Baal/Ashtoreth wasn’t the whole false god thing, but simply that those who worshiped Baal/Ashtoreth had imaged God wrong.  This is the same lousy logic that says that the Allah that Muslims worship is the same entity/person as Jehovah.

I have, on numerous occasions, cited my dismay with those that espouse an idea and then search the Scriptures for support of that idea (see also, “cart before the horse”).  But at least such eisegesis is only a misapplication of the text.  It’s sad that Kassian apparently feels that, in order to criticize the re-imaging of God, she must engage in the re-imaging of His Word.

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I’ve told you before that I am a loyal reader of Modern Reformation magazine which is edited by the estimable Michael Horton–no shallow Calvinist I assure you. Besides my hero DA Carson (and maybe John Calvin) I’m not sure there is a more deeply devoted-to-Reformation-theology Christian on the planet than Horton. (Maybe Brendt.)

Well, in the most recent issue, March-April 2009, Michael Horton wrote: “As Richard Foster observes, Protestant Movements such John Wesley’s ‘holy clubs’ and the ‘inner mission of the Norwegian Pietists have their roots in the heritage of Catholic spirituality, identified with medieval writers such as Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471)” (page 48, my emphasis).

It may be nothing, but I could have sworn Richard Foster was on the list of confirmed heretics. And now the bastion of conservative Reformed theology, host of the White Horse Inn, author of many books, editor of Modern Reformation, professor at Westminster Theological Seminary, is quoting him? I know this is an innocuous quote, but it is a quote. Maybe there’s another Richard Foster that I’m unaware of and in that case, this post can be safely ignored. But if he is quoting the Richard Foster (the one constantly dragged through ADM mud, author of many dangerous books on spiritual disciplines, and perpetual Guilt By Associator) then this is a whole new ball game.*

* :)

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Phil Johnson has long been critical of Mark Driscoll.  As an admitted Driscoll fan-boy, this would bug me, particularly when he employed tactics similar to those who have a blind hatred for the man (and an utter distaste for actual, ya know, facts).

But on Friday, at the Shepherd’s Conference, Johnson tipped his hand and revealed to the world that he’s just been kidding the whole time.

Early in his message, Johnson quoted the opening sentence of the recent New York Times piece that was largely on Driscoll:

Mark Driscoll’s sermons are mostly too racy to post on [an] evangelical Christian ‘family friendly’ . . . Web site.

This is an easily demonstrable lie.  Well, perhaps the NYT writer wasn’t lying, but was just phenomenally ignorant of her main topic. *

But Johnson is not ignorant.  He knows that that statement is false.  And yet, he did nothing to discredit it.

Now, I wouldn’t dream for a second that Johnson would knowingly deceive his listeners just to bolster his point.  And the clue that he wasn’t doing this is in the title of his message: “Sound Doctrine, Sound Words” and the Scripture (Titus 2:7-8) he used as his main text.

Knowingly deceiving your Christian brothers isn’t in the same zip code with sound doctrine (or sound anything for that matter).  So he clearly was being ironic.

Good one, Phil. Ya got me.

* Insert your favorite “research” joke here.

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Let me start by saying that I think * I agree with the overall point of this C?N post — publicly using others’ material without acknowledging the source is a Bad Thing ™.

But two things about this article give me pause — one serious and one kinda funny.

—- Seriously (in the literal sense) —-

The title of the post is “Sermon Copying: When The World Has More Integrity Than The Church”.

Now, it’s ridiculous to compare a Christian with an unsaved person to show when the Christian is better than the unsaved person.  Even comparing Christians with each other is silly.  The only relevant measuring rod for the Christian is Jesus Himself.  We all fall short, but (thankfully) the Christian has Christ’s righteousness attributed to him.

So why isn’t it just as ridiculous to compare a Christian with an unsaved person to show when the Christian is worse than the unsaved person? Again, the only relevant measuring rod for the Christian is Jesus Himself.  Whether the Christian is better or worse than another person is beyond irrelevant.

A less charitable person would note that a lot of the ADM posts seem to have a subtext of “Luke 18:11" href=";&version=50;" target="_blank">at least I’m not that bad“.

—- Seriously? (in the facetious sense) —-

In support of this (fallacious) comparative point, the author asks three rhetorical questions early in the post.  In order to coincide with this point, the answer to the questions must be “no”.  Let’s look at the first two and the implications of assuming that the answer is ‘no’:

… can you imagine a member of congress standing up and saying “Last night I was doing some research and 74% of …” when he didn’t, but was reciting another person’s experience?

I would like to welcome the author to America.  This is the only explanation that I can fathom.  Who else but a person new to this country wouldn’t know that 99% of what congresspersons claim as their own, isn’t really?

Or what about a CEO standing in front of his board of directors saying “I remember it like it was yesterday,” while every word he speaks is another person’s history?

This question makes me happy for the author.  It’s quite clear that he has not spent one day in corporate America.  Spending time in corporate America is not something that I’d wish on my worst enemy, so I’m glad that he hasn’t had to endure this grotesque, soul-sucking torture.

* I say “I think” because I (admittedly) didn’t read every one of the 2653 (!) words of that post.

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Rich Mullins* on a factor in which he found that Roman Catholicism more closely matched Scripture than evangelicalism:

I had read a book called Exploring Spiritual Direction by Alan Jones. That whole evangelical discipleship thing really turned me off, as most evangelical things do. I was just so depressed from meeting all these kids that were turning into caricatures of great old men or great old women, these great saints. People were thinking [that] the way to become spiritual is to imitate the lives of really spiritual people.

Berit Kjos of Lighthouse Trails:

We don’t “need” mentors and human models “to grow” as Christians; we need to trust God and follow His ways!

It is truly encouraging to see that LT is apparently willing to learn from our RC brethren and sistren.

* Full disclosure:  I was the interviewer that Rich was talking to.

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Todd Friel simultaneously struck out and hit a grand slam the other day. The strikeout was by putting 2 and 2 together and getting 13.72349; the home run was in crystallizing one of the biggest flaws of ADM thinking in just a couple minutes.

On his TV show, Friel joined the OCRPIJNGWHTDHTFSTC* Society to dump on Rick Warren’s prayer at President Obama’s inauguration. Early in his prayer, Warren said:

And You are the compassionate and merciful one

Friel then said, “In fairness, [I] wanna take a look at Psalm 145:8″ and the verse was put up on the screen:

The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.

He then said, “In fairness, that may have been Psalm 145:8, although it’s not quite Psalm 145:8; it was different.”

(Gee, that’s twice that he’s said “in fairness”.  Methinks the TV host doth protest too much.)

How, according to Friel, was it different?  It turns out that most of the chapters in the Koran start by saying:

You are compassionate and merciful

Friel then states that this is “the exact phrase that Rick Warren used”.  Um no, Todd it isn’t.  To paraphrase you, “it’s not quite the Koran; it was different.”  The words “And”, “the” and “one” do not appear in the Koran.  Now I realize that this is nit-picking, but not any more than what Friel was doing by saying it wasn’t “quite Psalm 145:8″.

But hey, just because Friel picks nits, let’s not sink to that level.  What seems not to occur to him is that maybe Warren was simply stating a fact that happens to be similar to a Scripture verse and also happens to be similar to something in the Koran.

At least, I would hope that Friel would agree that God is compassionate and merciful.

In other words, maybe Warren wasn’t quoting anything.  See Todd, there’s this thing that some Christians do, where their speech is infused with references and allusions to things found in Scripture, but they’re not quoting it.  This is what happens to some people when their faith constitutes their entire life and isn’t relegated to a few hours a week.  (I’m not saying that none of that is applicable to you, but it does strike me as odd that the concept is so incredibly foreign to you.)

Friel went on to state that Warren twisted two other Scriptures when he prayed:

and we know today that Dr King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in heaven

Yeah, “cloud of witnesses” is a familiar phrase.  But Friel states that Warren was quoting (and twisting) Hebrews 12:1 and Luke 15:10 (a major stretch) to come up with that sentence.  While I am personally unclear regarding the dead’s cognizance of human activity on earth, again we go back to the fact that maybe Warren wasn’t quoting anything.

But here’s the kicker, and how it’s indicative of ADM thinking.  In just a few minutes of video, Friel says the following phrases (some emphases are mine, but many are actually his):

  • that may have been
  • I don’t think
  • I guess only Rick Warren knows
  • seems to be quoting
  • I guess we’ll find out in eternity
  • I think what he’s doing there
  • I also think
  • maybe that’s what he meant
  • I think he basically

That’s a whole bucketload of uncertainty.  In fact, so much so that I have to question the point of even discussing it.  Yet he presents this information with so much certainty and pseudo-authority that it’s clear that he, personally, is uncertain of nothing, and the viewer shouldn’t be either.  He takes some coincidences, mixes in a lot of assumptions, and gives the viewer an (allegedly) undeniable conclusion.  This is the very foundation upon which “discernment” (as practiced by ADMs — not to be confused with actual discernment) is built.

A few other issues of note:

  1. In criticizing Warren’s reference to praying “in the name of the One Who changed my life”, Friel certainly holds in significant derision the concept of salvation being a life-changing experience.  Was it not that way for you, Todd?
  2. Don’t even get me started on Friel’s condescending laughs and sighs.
  3. Most error contains a good bit of truth; “a little leaven” and all that.  So to state that someone who said something that appears in the Koran is quoting (or even referencing) the Koran is ludicrous.
    • “This was more than I could understand.” — There, I’ve just “quoted” Mein Kampf at greater length than Warren allegedly quoted the Koran.
  4. In trying to bolster his “argument” of Warren being spiritually inclusive by (allegedly) quoting the Koran, Friel refers to the “Jewish shema”.  Funny, but every Christian Bible that I’ve seen has Deuteronomy in it.  By referring to the shema as Jewish, Friel denies the constancy and consistency of God.  I doubt that he actually believes that the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament; but that’s the misinformation that he purports by that allegation.

There is one thing to credit to Friel, though.  The link to this video was on Slice and it opened by saying “As only he can” (referring to Friel).  And apparently that is so.  In contrast to the ADMs, when Friel starts retrieving certainties and conclusions from bodily orifices, at least he admits to his uncertainty.  Sorta.

* OCRPIJNGWHTDHTFSTC = “Oh, crap; Rick prayed in Jesus’ name; guess we’ll have to dig harder to find something to criticize”

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Mark Driscoll recently praised Rick Warren regarding his invocation at President Obama’s inauguration.  As part of his writing about that, Driscoll stated that Warren was following the commands of 1 Timothy 2:1-3.  Seeing as how Driscoll and Warren together (in any form) represented a 2-fer for the ADMs, this couldn’t go unnoted.  After a paragraph of gross exaggeration and dead-horse-beating about Driscoll, Ingrid whipped out this gem:

To use Scriptural precedent for publicly praying God’s blessing on a leader who is an enemy of God is an abomination.

This is quite possibly one of the most brilliant things ever written.  Because of the opening phrase, Ingrid has (allegedly) silenced any critics of this sentence.  If you use “Scriptural precedent” to show how ludicrous this idea is, then it’s “an abomination”.  And if you don’t use “Scriptural precedent”, then you open yourself to criticism for not abiding by sola scriptura.

At least she was consistent by not using any Scripture herself to back up this statement.

Well, I’m not ready to be silent.  So get ready for more abomination, because I’m going to reference that nasty Bible thing.

In Luke 6:28, Jesus commanded us to

bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.

Now I have to wonder.  Ya think any “enemy of God” has ever cursed a Christian?  I’m thinking there’s a pretty good chance. (I’m also thinking that Tolstoy wrote a few words in his lifetime.)  So, according to Jesus, we’re supposed to bless that person.  But according to Ingrid, we’re not supposed to ask God to bless that person.  So, in short, we’re supposed to act one way, and God another way.  Even shorter, we’re not supposed to be like God.

“Enemy of God” is an interesting phrase.  It’s even very Biblical (at least when applied correctly).  Romans 5 and Colossians 1 both tell us that all people are enemies of God before salvation.  Every Christian was blessed with the faith to accept Christ.  Every Christian was blessed by the fact that Christ died before anyone reading this was born.

Let’s go broader:  Ya think there were any non-Christians (and therefore, enemies of God) on board Flight 1549 (the flight that ditched in the Hudson River)?  I’m thinking there’s a pretty good chance. (I’m also thinking that it may, occasionally, get a bit brisk in Antartica.)  God certainly blessed those people by sparing their lives.

But according to Ingrid, God’s not supposed to bless His enemies.  What an absolute screw-up this God character is.  My only comfort is that, most likely in her mind, I don’t follow Him anyway.

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In trying to be “all things to all men”, Mark Driscoll takes a drastic step to appeal to his conservative critics.

a tie?

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So what was it like to be in ministry prior to the internet?  Well Graham Cooke had his own ADM’s that followed him around wherever he went.  Little did he know that God was gonna use it to teach him and refine him.

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I have nothing to add to that title.  I’m just curious about how this site’s detractors will argue with it.

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